Book Review: Heartstream – Tom Pollock

“I just wanted to see you. Before the end. A taut psychological thriller about obsession, fame and betrayal, for fans of Black Mirror. Cat is in love. Always the sensible one, she can’t believe that she’s actually dating, not to mention dating a star. But the fandom can’t know. They would eat her alive. And first at the buffet would definitely be her best friend, Evie.

Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness, and her grief following her death. It’s the realest, rawest reality TV imaginable. But on the day of Amy’s mother’s funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. She’s rigged herself and the house with explosives – and she’s been waiting to talk to Amy for a long time. Who is she? A crazed fan? What does she want? Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.”

Oof, this book! This book. If that blurb doesn’t grab you I don’t know what will. I could not put this book down, I stayed up way too late because I needed to know what was going to happen, I needed to know answers!

Initially I did find it hard to connect with Amy, I found her a little bratty and couldn’t gel with her – this did change throughout the novel as I got to know the character. Cat, on the other hand, I instantly connected to and wanted to know more about her and her life – overall I did prefer Cat as a character.

It took me a long while to understand what the connection between Amy and Cat and it drove me a little crazy, then when it dawned on me I definitely gasped out loud and continued racing through. This also broke me out of a slump I was having and made me interested in thrillers again.

While I did work out a few elements before they happened that was towards the end and I still had some shock moments. Pollock can clearly write a thriller that feels new and I can’t remember the last time I read one of those.

I found it really interesting how the plot centers around technology and emotion. We don’t know where technology and streaming is going to go and while this is a terrifying possibility it’s also fascinating because I think people would subscribe to this and use it in the real world. That said the positives and negatives are both there, which adds a great sense of balance.

I gave this 4 stars, a really strong book and that ending…THAT ENDING. I definitely need to know more and while I doubt there will be a follow up, I would read it within a second – I need to know what happens after! A strong thriller that I would definitely recommend for someone looking for something a little different with a technology twist.

Book Review: Sadie – Courtney Summers

When Sadie’s younger sister Mattie is found dead, her world is shattered. After spending the last 13 years raising her the only thing on her mind is revenge. She’s going to hunt down her sisters killer and he’s next. Told through the perspective of Sadie herself and a Podcast host trying to solve the mystery of Mattie’s death and Sadie’s own disappearance.

This is a novel that has taken the book world by storm I have seen it over countless blogs, Bookstagram, Booktube (yeah, I really like books). I finally found a copy in London and had to buy it to see what all the fuss was about. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a good YA suspense novel so why not?

I really enjoyed the way in which the novel was set out, switching between Sadie herself and Podcaster Matt gave an extra something to it. I’ve also been told that Macmillen recorded an actual podcast to go along with the book. From the two perspectives, you get to learn a lot more about Sadie and her life without it being forced on you. I don’t know if this would work time and time again, however, in this instance it did.

It was a real page-turner, I couldn’t put it down. When I had that book in my hand I was racing through with questions. What happened to Mattie? Is Sadie going to find the killer? Does Sadie know what she’s getting herself into here? I needed to know what was happening and for the majority of the novel, I felt like this.

There were some points within the novel that I felt things were just a little too coincidental and some of the twists and turns were a little predictable. That said, I really do understand how it got the attention it did. This is a fast-paced novel that has an interesting way of telling a story. For that reason, I really do think it is worth a look if this sounds interesting to you.

I feel that this is a 3.5 star read. I really, really, wanted to love it as much as every else has but the end just ruined it for me. Without spoilers, I just felt like it could have ended better. I still had so many questions and felt a little irritated by it. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to spoil it for you!

Book Review: Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G Thompson

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Two girls are kidnapped, after six years Amy returns to her mother’s doorstep. What happened to her best friend and cousin, Dee? Is she alive? And why won’t Amy tell anyone what happened in those six years?

I have no doubt this was a difficult novel to write because it is an uncomfortable read. The girls are kidnapped and as you can imagine it’s not sweetness and light. There is kidnap, violence and abuse. The nightmare that 16-year-old Amy has endured hasn’t ended. She must keep quiet or those she loves most will suffer.

Wow, this novel is dark but incredibly gripping. I picked this up at YALC earlier in the year and it did not disappoint. There’s an element of mystery, thriller and heartbreak. This is a page turner, I read this within 24 hours and between that, I slept and went to see a musical so that should give you an inclination of how much of a pageturner it was.

It was also interesting to see the perspective of someone who is still bound by their captor and not in a traditional sense. The character of Amy is incredibly complex and this shows throughout the novel. The idea of someone returning to the world after losing the majority of their childhood is interesting, particularly how they navigate the outside world.

I gave this 4 stars. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed it? This is, of course, a tough subject matter but the novel is incredibly well written. The pacing is perfect for the novel and there is the right amount of information and mystery. That said it didn’t get the full 5 stars because there were certain points I didn’t feel were completely realistic to the situation such as lack of medical. I did enjoy it but there were some things I’d like to have seen. Either way, I’d highly recommend this novel.

Book Review: Bad Girls With Perfect Faces – Lyn Weingarten

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How far would you go to protect your best friend?

All Sasha wants to do is protect Xavier from Ivy, from what she can do, but how far is she willing to go? Posing as a guy online to lure Ivy away is just the start…

Going in I feel I need to say that this novel gets dark pretty quickly, but it’s definitely what was needed. From this, it creates a brilliant atmosphere for the rest of the novel. It has darkness, intrigue and while at times there is some cliché moments, particularly in the beginning this evolves throughout the novel.

I wanted to start by saying that I didn’t particularly find any of these characters likeable and for that, I give Weingarten full credit. I found each of the characters to be quite selfish and while they claimed that their actions were out of love, it appeared to be more about themselves rather than anything.

The novel looks at the dangers of a life online, who someone is really speaking to as well as what relationships mean. Told in multiple points of view throughout, you can clearly see the motivations of the characters and what they hide from themselves and each other.

Overall I gave this 3 stars. While I enjoyed the novel, I was able to guess quite a few of the plot twists that were coming up. I don’t know if that’s just because I’ve read a lot of thrillers or it’s a reflection of the novel. Saying that I did still enjoy the novel and would love to see another on what the characters lives were like 10 years later if they were to meet again. So, not my favourite Weingarten novel, but I’d still recommend it.

Thank you so much to Netgalley, the publisher and author for this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Feminist Friday: The ‘Girls’ in modern thrillers

Have you ever noticed a trend in modern thrillers? The Girl on the Train, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl or the other couple of thousands I found when I typed in ‘The Girl’ into a thriller search. I can hear some, what’s the problem? Are you making a mountain out of a molehill here?! When this was initially pointed out to me I wondered the same thing but it goes deeper than that. In all of the books that I’ve read with a similar title, there is no ‘girl’, just a grown woman. So, why are publishers so persistent in presenting them this way?

Now, it could be as simple as this is a catchier title, but I’m not buying it. It seems to go further. When we hear the word girl as a society there are connotations of weakness, naivety and childishness. I know for a fact in ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘The Girl on the Train’ both of these characters aren’t seen as reliable narrators, which is only added to the fact that they are referred to as ‘girls’ in the title.  If we switch this, trying to find instances of men being called boys is incredibly low. Which just screams inequality to me.

I’m aware that this isn’t a huge issue, that this isn’t the most important thing that feminism should address but it is an issue. It just shows how there is a, sometimes unconscious, bias against women in our everyday language. I’m not a linguist but even I can see that by branding these women ‘girls’ we are doing women a disservice. If you’ve ever read Gone Girl for example, Amy is not a one-dimensional character, far from it, nor is Rachel from The Girl on the Train.

It’s definitely something I think we should be mindful of. Call these characters what they are, women! It’s just something that has been playing on my mind. As always let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Book Review: The One – John Marrs

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If you could meet your perfect DNA match, why wouldn’t you do it?

A new relationship revolution is happening. After a gene is discovered to match you to ‘the one’ thousands find unimaginable happiness with the person they’re meant to be with, but the path of true love never runs smooth.

Now, personally, I just found the idea of this super creepy, which instantly makes it a novel I want to read. The idea that there is one person who shares a DNA match, in my head it made you sound like you were related. Nevertheless, it is a great idea for a novel. This is what made me originally request a copy for review. I’m always hopeful for a good thriller.

I really wanted to enjoy this novel, and I did to a point. There are a lot of twists and turns, quite a few I didn’t see coming and that made the novel move faster. It also did a great job of making you want to read on, for the last quarter I needed to finish it and find out what happened. I did care more about what happened to some characters more than others.

The main gripe I had with this is that there were just too many characters and it wasn’t until I was more than halfway through that I could remember who was with who and what their backstory was. There was so much going on it almost felt like a collection of short stories, which maybe it should have been. It seemed like because there were so many characters, by the end, the endings became a little disappointing and some big holes appeared.

Marrs clearly has a talent for suspense and writing violence, that was one of the most well crafted parts of the novel I believe. Each character had been given their own flair, however, it was slightly disappointing that I did see some stereotypes playing out which was quite frustrating because it didn’t really fit with the rest of the novel.

I gave The One 3 stars. Overall this was a good read but ultimately the ending just really let it down for me. That said I would still recommend it but make sure you have time to concentrate because it does get confusing and can be hard to remember exactly that is going on. I would still like to read some of Marr’s other work as he clearly has a talent for writing.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to give an honest review.

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

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Can You Trust Anyone? 

When Louise kisses a gorgeous man at a bar on Friday night, she thinks little of it. After raising a young son alone after a hurtful divorce, she deserves a bit of fun. That is, what she thought was fun until her now boss starts on Monday morning and she realises he’s her mysterious kiss and a married man. While she tries to keep her distance, it’s clear that David hasn’t forgotten. To make matters worse, Louise meets Adele, a young and lonely young woman who’s new to town…she’s also David’s wife. As Louise falls hard into both relationships not all is as it seems. Someone’s playing games, but who?

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Behind Her Eyes for review from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good thriller, after trying so many of the current ‘it’ books I needed something a little different, a little darker. So I was happy when Pinborough’s novel was ready for me to read. The novel moves between Louise and Adele, two very different women who both have an interest in the same man. The closer the women get, however, the darker the novel becomes.

In true thriller fashion, readers are questioning throughout the whole novel who’s telling the truth. As an outside perspective, I feel that most reader will be a few steps further than our characters, or at least they think they will. I will admit that while I didn’t entirely like some of the twists I was hooked. I needed to pick that book up and get it finished, I needed to see how it was going to work out and if my predictions were correct (some were, some weren’t).

I will say there were times when I felt that the did fall into some of the classic thriller tropes that can get fairly annoying. For example, the idea of a marriage that looks perfect to the outside world but is hiding something dark. This has been done so, so many times before and I did bore me at times because it kept being reiterated, particularly in regards to Adele. There was also the situation of two women who are so different but are thrown together in some way and bond. Realistically I could not see Adele and Louise getting along or being anything like one another, which meant I struggled at some point during the novel.

I had to give it three stars as the ending was a little too neat for my tastes. There were elements that, while intriguing and interesting, I felt didn’t really match the rest of the story and could have had a lot more exploration. To some extent, I felt like they were simply thrown in there for shock factor, which wasn’t needed. A good thriller is largely dependent on the ending the author creates and while this wasn’t my favourite ending, it did have an element of surprise.